Passionate plea for doctors to take MedCan opportunity

With exactly one month until the medicinal cannabis regulations come into effect, the industry is passionately appealing to doctors to attend New Zealand’s first ever medicinal cannabis summit, MedCan 2020 on 18-19 March at SkyCity.

“Patient enquiries are growing, with the local industry gearing up to deliver products. However, we remain worried many doctors say they’re still not informed enough to prescribe medicinal cannabis. Simply put, the best opportunity for them to get ahead of all this is MedCan,” says Paul Manning, Co-Founder and Chief Executive of Helius Therapeutics.

While tickets are now very limited, registrations remain open for MedCan Summit 2020 on 18 – 19 March at Auckland’s SkyCity Convention Centre, with organisers equally keen to see a strong attendance by healthcare professionals.

“Given GPs will be the gatekeepers of medicinal cannabis from 1 April, doctor education is absolutely critical to patient access. Let’s not forget that thousands of Kiwi patients have waited a long time for this day to arrive. Anticipation is building, with many doctors now needing to upskill,” says Mr Manning.

He says Helius’ own demand modelling suggests the New Zealand market will reach around 60,000 patients at maturity, which will only increase further as clinically-proven products start coming on the market.

“Surveys tell us that most doctors are already getting patient enquiries and would prescribe medicinal cannabis but only with sufficient information and evidence. And that’s the key: Doctors want and need to know more,” he says.

A New Zealand Medical Journal study of GPs, released last month, showed over half had received enquiries about medicinal cannabis, with 84% saying they would be "somewhat likely" or "very likely" to prescribe a Pharmac-approved, funded cannabis product if it was backed by good evidence.

This follows a Helius-commissioned independent survey of over 700 healthcare professionals last year, where 89% of those qualified to prescribe said they would prescribe medicinal cannabis products for one or more of 20 medical conditions, but only if they had enough information.

Mr Manning says peer-reviewed scientific studies have shown that cannabis may be therapeutic for dozens of serious health conditions, from chronic pain to anxiety, epilepsy to depression, cancer to insomnia. Cannabis-based medicines have the potential to improve health on an unprecedented scale – and in a way that’s life-changing for many patients and much safer than many pharmaceutical alternatives.

“Doctors can see from MedCan’s detailed programme that the two-day medicine stream is particularly strong, with several world-renowned medical experts presenting across a range of areas. Without doubt, this summit will prove to be a very good use of their time,” he says.

Notably, the educational component of MedCan Summit 2020 has been given approval for CME endorsement by The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners (RNZCGP) as well as the Pharmaceutical Society of New Zealand (PSNZ) Enhance Professional Development.

As New Zealand’s largest licenced medicinal cannabis biotechnology company, focused on research and development, Helius Therapeutics is foundation sponsor of MedCan Summit 2020.

“We’re significantly investing in MedCan as it’s a timely, exciting, and educational international event for all stakeholders. Such an opportunity has never been presented at this scale in New Zealand, so on behalf of their patients, we’re now calling on doctors to join us,” says Paul Manning.

For more information on the summit, please email or visit

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